Published 02 December 2021

West Dunbartonshire pupils are to be taught about diversity and given lessons in how to tackle bigotry, religious hate and racism.

The Council will work with charities Nil By Mouth and Show Racism the Red Card to highlight to pupils the impact of religious hatred and through lessons, raise further awareness of the issues surrounding sectarianism.

The lessons will be offered to selected age groups in primary and in all secondary schools as part of the curriculum and will promote positive social values and encourage young people to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.

Councillor Karen Conaghan, Convener of Educational Services, said: "I have been campaigning to raise awareness of the need to begin a conversation on this issue, especially with our younger residents.  It is important that we educate our children so they grow up knowing what’s right and what’s not, especially with regards to sectarianism. Hopefully by having lessons and raising awareness in both denominational and non-denominational schools, we can change the next generation to understand the hurt and distress this needless behaviour can have on individuals and their families. There’s no place for racism or sectarianism it in today’s society.”

Councillor Ian Dickson, Vice Convener of Educational Services, said: “I am aware of both charities and the great work they do across Scotland, and it’s a positive step to partner with them in our schools.  We must get the message out to everyone that religious hatred and racism will not be tolerated in our schools or our communities. Hopefully these lessons will give children the opportunity to share their views and experiences and if necessary, empower them to recognize when other people's behaviour is not appropriate and have the courage to speak up.” 

 Nil by Mouth Director Dave Scott said: “We are pleased to enter into this partnership with West Dunbartonshire Council and have already had more than a dozen schools take up the offer of engaging 

with us. We are really grateful for the commitment shown by elected members and officials to this programme which allows us to reach thousands of young people. 

“This programme will allow pupils and teachers to discuss issues around faith, culture and identity positivity and consider the impact of things like verbal and online abuse, graffiti and prejudiced attitudes on individuals and communities. 

“As a charity set up by a teenager we know the potential of young people to create real change in society, and we also want to hear their views on how best we build bridges higher than walls between people from different backgrounds.”

Show Racism the Red Card, Campaign Manager, Jordan Allison, said: ““Our team in Scotland are thrilled to begin working in partnership with schools in West Dunbartonshire.

“Show Racism the Red Card engage educators and sporting role models to equip young people with the tools to recognise and challenge racism in all its forms.

“Racism is a deep, societal issue that affects entire communities and it’s encouraging to see councils like West Dunbartonshire take proactive steps to ensure their young citizens can tackle it.”